My guruji – Ustad Rahim Fahimuddin Dagar

I often felt that the Universe is eager to be revealed of its secrets and always waits for a ‘dedicated’ through whom the wonders can be poured. May it be anything… music, yoga or painting, but when the entire soul is devoted enough to please the supreme soul, the differences slowly melt and the passage of consciousness dilutes to be ‘one’ and the state attained is ‘samadhi’.

“Ek sadhe, sab saadhe.
Sab saadhe, sab jaaye…”,
as my guru, Ustad Fahimuddin Dagarji often said.

And I am a lucky girl to have witnessed such a person, his aura, his be-ing, his way of life that is so filled with love, trance and blessings. I always felt an urge to run to get him water or medicine throughout the day, for after these small favours, he would lift up his hands heavy with blessings and when they come upon my bent head, I always felt that the enlightenment of my soul lies in these hands and each time they land they liberate my blocked energy that kept me held from God.

My whole day in his house passed immersed in music, early mornings with riyaz and then the lessons begin… mixed with vigorous practice and his demonstrations. Sometimes he went on to explain the depth and vastness of Indian Classical Music and philosophy… and the metaphors and parables and examples he used kept us almost swallowing every word he spoke. “Impossible is nothing, but possibility too is not easy”- this is often mentioned by guruji, not to discourage but to prepare his students with enough patience and will to toil and understand, for what they have chosen to dive in is not a mere puddle but an endless ocean which demands its divers to know the strokes to admire its every wave and splash.

But the property of love is never specific. A person in love with his beloved ends up being in love with the winds, clouds and moon too. And imagine a person who has loved music so much that he dedicated his entire life and breath to allow these waves through his soul and has become like a fountain that oozes out love every second.

The tone in which he speaks, the way in which he teaches, the gestures with which he corrects and the frown with which he scolds are all somehow so mingled with love.



Sometimes, in the evening when the gardener came and watered the plants outside and our lessons are still going on… when the water seeps into the dry soil to feed the plants and the wet smell of the soil filled the room, I saw my guruji close his eyes and fill his lungs with that smell and a smile of divine peace lighten up his face slowly.

And the stray cat that was deprived of love in its entire harsh world, with ugly feet, black patch and beaten back with sore, must also be wondering what makes him so adorable to this man who raises his eyebrows, looking at him so lovingly and calls out, “Kalooo… where have you been so long?”

“Dhrupad is not just bandish but the entire system”, said he. “Starting from how to pronounce each swar, how should it be presented, how much of softness should it have and how much strength does it require, Dhrupad is the entire science of the voice-culture and impartation of musical knowledge taking care of every stage and step, even keeping in account how one should sit and what one should wear.”

While singing a bandish dedicated to Devi Durga he explained, “this is not easy. One has to understand the entire personality of the god or goddess to present or dedicate the song. One has to allow that deiti to flow in so that the music as a medium can find its way.” Sometimes in the evening he would go on singing ceaselessly and his eyes seemed so lost and hazy, his palms held together in prayer and as water filled his eyes and rolled down I could feel his body lose touch from this world and his soul now one with that of the Universe. And I often told myself, “God, what have I done so good in my life that you brought me to this great man?”

He used to sleep late usually. Once when I woke up after mid-night and came out of my room to drink water, I had a glance at his way of praying before he went to bed. A dim, yellow light was glowing in the corner of his room and guruji’s white hair and white clothes added to that softness, almost spreading rays from his aura. He held his palms flat and then joined them again to touch his forehead and muttered his prayer. In that golden light, his shadow fell huge on the wall, partly merging with the darkness of the room and his watery eyes shimmered in that dark.

He was neither a Hindu nor a Muslim. As simply as he opened and joined his palms for prayer, that simply he could let go what is trifle and let in what is divine. His voice with equal devotion recited for Brahma and Allah. He was beyond the boundary of religion and nationality, beyond the taboos, beyond any separation that kept humans divided.
He was a sage. Music was his medium.

Different days experienced different moods in that house. Sometimes, the air was heavy with explanations and discussions and sometimes maaji’s tea would set the air fluid and her motherliness softened it all. A joke, a taunt, a sip in the tea, a hearty laughter and a scolded student sad with his failure being consoled by maaji to restore his vigour.
The evening slowly turned feminine with her participation.

That one month spent in that house became a nucleus for my entire life and created a space in me of highly concentrated energy I can keep withdrawing from forever.

I thank SPIC MACAY to have given me this immense opportunity through its Gurukul scholarship program. In 2008, I along with 2 other students had gotten this opportunity.
In 2011, guruji passed away.

“I hope more people can see what tremendous amount of treasure our ancestors have left for us. I hope they realize the depth of it.” This was a sentence very commonly used by my guruji.

Raag Kedar
Talk on continuity and change in music tradition
Guruji talks about religion and the blends


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